SA managers detained

2013-02-14 00:00

FOUR South Africans were still in custody in Freetown, Sierra Leone, yesterday afternoon after they reportedly had problems with their work permits and were arrested on Monday.

The four, who include two women, were told on Saturday to leave the diamond mine project on which they worked and to report to the authorities in Freetown. They were then arrested on charges of using fraudulent documents and working with permits that were not in order.

However, the state dropped the fraud charges yesterday afternoon.

Anxious friends and family of the four yesterday expressed concern on Facebook about the conditions in which they were being detained.

Niqui Irle (30) is one of the detained workers. She is head of community upliftment at the Koidu diamond mine, the biggest of its kind in Sierra Leone.

Along with Irle, three managers — of human resources, security and operations — are being detained. Only their first names, Andries, Mario and Juanita, could be obtained from informed sources in Freetown yesterday.

The telephone line for the mine’s office in the Kono district, west of Freetown, is out of order. The phone of the mine’s communications officer, Ibrahim Kamara, was switched off.

The mine is managed mostly by South Africans and in the past has been held up as a success story in promoting stability and progress in an economy wrecked by violence.

The mine is owned by the Beny Steinmetz group in its Octea division. It was created in 2003 and, according to its website, produces up to 500 000 carats of diamonds per year.

The problems at the mine started late last year when heavy rains delayed production. Bonuses were not paid out in December and the miners became unhappy.

Some buildings were reportedly set alight and local police shot dead two miners during riots.

A new management team was appointed, including the four departmental heads who have been arrested.

It was reportedly that the local department of labour ordered the four to report to the immigration department and police. They were then arrested and summarily locked up.

They were to appear in court yesterday or today. They face a fine or prison term if found guilty of working on permits that are not in order.

International Relations Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said South Africa does not have diplomatic representation in Sierra Leone. He was not aware of the arrests.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.